Spain and Portugal reopen their shared border

The easing of traffic restrictions between the two countries will be a relief for traders.

Published: 01st July 2020 06:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2020 06:54 PM   |  A+A-

Spain-portugal border

Spanish Civil Guard officers stand guard in a checkpoint at the Spanish-Portuguese border. (File photo | AFP)


ELVAS (PORTUGAL): Spain and Portugal on Wednesday reopened their shared border, which has been closed since March 16 as Lisbon sought to protect itself from new cases that were exploding across Spain. 

With its only land border closed for more than three months, Portugal has weathered the epidemic better than its neighbour -- 1,576 deaths from 42,141 cases compared with Spain's 28,355 deaths from almost 250,000 cases. 

But both countries are struggling with fresh outbreaks since the lockdown ended.

On Wednesday, Lisbon reimposed a partial lockdown, ordering some 700,000 people in several impoverished neighbourhoods in the north of the capital to stay at home. 

In these areas, residents were never properly able to respect the initial lockdown, many having to work and take public transport, local organisations have said. 

Meanwhile, Spanish regions are closely watching around 50 separate outbreaks, which in most cases are limited to just a handful of people. 

A reopening ceremony was presided over by King Felipe VI and Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, accompanied by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa, all wearing masks. 

After hearing both national anthems played by a string quartet, they spent a few minutes walking around Badajoz in Spain before attending a similar ceremony on the Portuguese side in Elvas.

The easing of traffic restrictions between the two countries will be a relief for traders, particularly in Portugal, while Spanish visitors will resume their habitual shopping trips and visits to the beaches of the Algarve. 

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